Premarital Questions to Help You Get Ready for Marriage

Are you really ready for marriage?

So you’re thinking about getting married! Congratulations on finding that special someone, falling madly in love, and deciding to live that love through commitment. And throughout the months or years that led up to the exciting time that is now, you’ve probably asked yourself hundreds of questions along the way, some big (Is he/she the one? Does he/she have feelings for me?), some on a smaller scale (Do I have a piece of spinach on my front tooth?).

Questioning ourselves is a uniquely human experience.

Which means the questions don’t end now that you’re on the verge of marriage or recently married. Although it might feel like the most pressing question is “Should we invite Uncle Dwight and will he insist on bringing his llama to the reception?”, there are more important questions to ask yourself.

Relationship Help: 5 premarital counseling questions to reflect on

1) Am I really ready for marriage? 
2) Am I truly in love? 
3) Do we both want children?
4) What are the things that matter most to me?   
5) Are we financially compatible?

1) Am I ready for marriage?

What does it mean to be ready?  Serious? Committed? Ostensibly, you’re pretty darned serious and already committed since you’re on the verge of marriage.  Typically (unless you’re in Las Vegas for the weekend with a vat of mixed drinks and a hasty Justice of the Peace), people feel a sense of commitment and loyalty to each other when they seriously consider getting hitched.  But, as you know if you’ve reached even the ripe old age of 12, considering something and doing it are two very different things.

Are you ready for the relationship you enjoy to become an ever bigger part of your life, indeed, to become something that shapes other aspects of your life? Are you ready for your days of unilateral decision-making to give way to days of joint decisions, which will often involve disagreement, compromise—on your side as well as your betrothed’s?

Okay, and here’s the frustrating crux of the issue:  you can’t ever truly know if you’re ready for something until you actually do it.  But hold on a second: even if Am I ready? is an unanswerable question, it’s a valuable one.

When you ask yourself that question, you take the first and biggest step in the process of becoming ready. You’re beginning to examine the full extent of what it means to join your life to someone else’s. So ask it freely, and try to stay quiet long enough to hear your response.

2) Am I truly in love?

Okay, ostensibly you’re in love if you’re on the verge of marriage. But beyond that circular argument, can you distinguish you’re feelings for this man or woman from infatuation or lust?

It will help if you’ve experienced cases of being head-over-heels-in-lust with someone you’ve seen across a crowded room and haven’t even heard his/her voice or, more importantly, know how they vote. When those fires cool, you can often see your attraction for just that—physical longing unencumbered by more complex emotions.

Getting back to the person you’re nearing the altar with: How long have you known this person? Has that been long enough for the initial euphoria and headiness to level off into a more mature, cool-headed attitude where you each can see other clearly? Although many people swear you can’t really know a person until you live with them, do you believe you know this person very well?

Have you observed your beloved when he/she is under stress? (If he turns green and leaves his clothes in tatters, you might want to know that right up front.) How does he/she treat others, including family, friends, and strangers?

Remember, loving someone includes acknowledging their shortcomings and wanting to be with them anyway.  If the relationship is too new and still in the “you are absolutely perfect and you can do no wrong” stage, you might want to wait for the love to ripen so you can accurately brand it as love.

3) Do we both want children?

Kids eat free! Kids sleep free!  Kids get in free!  It’s a family-oriented world, certainly, and kids are everywhere. Heck, you were once a kid and I’m pretty sure your fiancée was too.

Which brings us to our next hot-button topic: progeny.

Do you want to have children?  Are there personal or professional goals you want to achieve before having kids? Do you and your fiancé share the same expectations for how your life might change after having children?

You might also discuss things like when you’d like to start a family, ideas about education and religion, even the ideal number of kids. Even if it’s a far-off goal, it’s extremely important to clearly and openly discuss the possibility of children with your potential spouse.  There are so many things in a marriage you can compromise about, but if one of you desperately wants children and the other desperately doesn’t, there’s really no compromise for that.  (Trust me, getting a puppy isn’t meeting halfway…)

4) What are the things that matter most to me?

Try to hash out the most important things to you (your fiancé/fiancée better be on top of the list, or you need to go back to question #2 and spend some serious soul-searching time there). And then have him/her do the same, and really sit with the results.  See if there’s overlap.  See if there are things hopelessly at odds with each other.  For example, if one item on your list is “sharing lots of food with family…often” and on his is “fasting every chance I get,” you’ve got some tricky juxtapositions to work on. It doesn’t mean such a union shouldn’t take place, but those considerable differences in core values need to be clearly acknowledged and planned for.

What are the things that really matter to you (family, career, travel, religion), and will there be enough room for them after you marry this person?  What are the things that really matter to him/her, and can you live happily with those values?

One of the most common mistakes new couples make is to hold onto their similarities and obscure their differences. The problem with this is that you’re likely to be unpleasantly surprised when your differences inevitably arise.  If you start your marriage from a place of realizing where each of your core values lie, how they might differ and how these values will manifest in your marriage, you can avoid that type of shock down the road.

5) Are we financially compatible?

Consider this scenario: You’re a spendthrift who’d just as soon toss money out a moving car than save it, and he’s so frugal he makes Scrooge look like a charity-junkie. You’re not financially compatible.  Does that mean you shouldn’t marry if everything else points to compatibility and commitment? Of course not!  It just means that you need to have a real plan for healthy compromise on both sides, a financial blueprint.

If you’re like many married couples, you’ll have funds in joint accounts, which means you both need to make decisions on major spending and saving.  Therefore, you have to have a realistic plan in place for meeting somewhere in the middle. Or perhaps it would be best if he had his own account where he could save and you had yours that could be perpetually empty.

Don’t assume issues around money will magically work themselves out.

Married couples report money as a common source of recurring fights, so it makes sense to know as much as you can about how each of you handles money before you say “I do.”

Stay tuned:  How to help your marriage evolve in a healthy way when your answers to these same questions change over time.

Until next time,

Dr. Rich Nicastro

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